The Heartwarming Story Of Baby Elephant – Ellie

Cast Away Calf

This adorable calf had somehow survived on his own for who knows how long, but he needed medical attention fast before things turned for the worst. The baby elephant was rescued in South Africa after being left for dead by his herd. The poor calf was very sick and had very little chance of surviving more than a few days.


The calf needed medicine fast. The team of people who rescued him would try everything that they could to get the little guy back to normal, and attempt to bring him back to his herd. They would try so many things to nurse him back to health, but the thing that ultimately worked was something no one expected.

Herd Life

Being with his own kind would have been the best course of action for the baby elephant’s wellbeing. Because of this, animal experts made several attempts to reunite the calf with his herd in Hluhluwe’s Bonamanzi Game Reserve. However, the rescuers weren’t expecting the outcome of their efforts.


Sadly, the baby elephant’s herd did not take to the little guy for some reason, and he was again orphaned and left without his elephant family. At that point, the human wildlife rescuers took things into their own hands, but no one could have expected the unbelievable series of events that would ensue from here on.

Ellie The Elephant

The baby elephant was two weeks old when he was rescued and brought to the Thula Thula Private Game Reserve for rehabilitation, in Zululand, South Africa. Upon arrival at the special sanctuary, in 2015, the baby elephant was named Ubuntu, and was known affectionately as Ellie.


Ellie, the sick baby elephant, went through a very thorough assessment upon his arrival at the wildlife rehabilitation sanctuary. But the experts at the center were blown away to find the real reason why the sick elephant’s herd had left him behind, and why they would not accept him when they brought him back home.

Fighting To Survive

Luckily, Ellie the elephant had been found by rescuers just in time, because the baby was fighting to survive. The young elephant was facing several grim prognosis, which needed immediate care; an infected umbilical hernia proved to be the most critical of all.


Without immediate and intensive treatment, the baby calf almost certainly would not have survived. Determined to help, even though the condition that Ellie had was fatal for 99% of its patients, the caretakers were willing to do all they could to help. They remained hopeful even though they were scared.

Determined To Help

The medical staff at the animal orphanage kept an eye on the elephant and provided 24-hour care for the poor baby. Ellie also had a team all to himself at the animal sanctuary. These people worked non stop around the clock in an attempt to nurse the elephant back to health.


Ellie faced another obstacle that could prove to be fatal. Along with all of his other ailments, it seemed to never end for Ellie. This new concern forced the staff to think fast and stay on top of him around the clock if he was going to have any chance of pulling through and making it through this.

Severe Symptom

The baby elephant had an intolerance to the food they were feeding him, probably due to that fact that his prognosis was so severe and he was so sick. Again, his life was hanging by a thread, as his body rejected the food that it needed to regain strength and boost his immune system.


His caretakers specially ordered milk from Zimbabwe and Kenya in an attempt to try feeding him a range of different kinds of milk. Unfortunately, he did not seem to be taking to any of the options and the situation grew increasingly critical. They had to think of something, and fast.

Remarkable Solution

Since Ellie was not responding to the milk they had, the staff at the African wildlife reserve created a special milk formula, packed with all the essentials that little Ellie needed. Thankfully, their efforts paid off and the elephant calf finally started to take to this new food.


After getting some food in him, finally, he slowly started to show signs of stabilizing. The situation was becoming a bit more hopeful now that Ellie seemed to be improving physically. However, he had more going on than just his physical ailments. There was something more going on with Ellie’s health.

Low Spirits

Karen Trendler, who was a rehabilitation and crisis response expert treating Ellie at the animal orphanage, noticed that Ellie was extra weak and very ill. He wasn’t showing interest in doing anything and he remained very lethargic and disinterested. Poor little Ellie was so down and seemed so lonely and sad, even though he had a team of humans caring for him.


Even though Ellie was now safe and able to eat food, the baby elephant appeared lonely, sad, and withdrawn. That was when caretakers made a wild realization about the abandoned baby elephant and began to truly understand the severity of Ellie’s situation.

Emotional Trauma

Elephants are extremely social creatures and they depend almost entirely on bonds they form in nature. After his rough childhood, Ellie the elephant seemed to be having a hard time overcoming the problems that he had endured as an infant.


Even though Ellie was physically improving and had staff around him, the calf was having trouble finding his way without his family. Sadly, Ellie’s psychological state seemed to be quickly deteriorating. The staff did not want to see the elephant suffer anymore since he had already been through so much. It was then that the orphanage staff did something that would have a major impact on the baby elephant.

Shelter For Many Species

Ellie was being nursed at the Thula Thula wildlife rehabilitation reserve. Not only were they caring for Ellie, but they were also home to a variety of African animals. The reserve was mainly home to rhinos, in particular. However, it took in other animals such as buffalo, leopards, giraffes, zebras, hyenas, and crocodiles.


There was no absence of companions for the elephant, yet Ellie didn’t appear to be keen on hanging out with his neighbors. At least that was the case until one unique creature appeared and formed a seemingly impossible bond with the little elephant. The rescue team decided to try something wild.

Ellie and Duma

Experts at the wildlife rehabilitation center were desperately seeking to improve the elephant’s well-being and mental health. They were hopeful that they could improve Ellie’s mood when they introduced him to a German Shepard named Duma, who also lived on the grounds.


Duma was known for his attentive and tender nature toward all creatures. He was a former police dog, though, and of course there was no guarantee that this forced friendship would help Ellie. But they were running out of options and time, and this course of action seemed like their best bet. Given Ellie’s condition, no one expected what would happen between the two, but they decided to give this last idea a try and hope for the best.

Canine Companion

No one knew what was going to happen or how Duma and Ellie would react once they were introduced. Thankfully, Ellie’s caretakers saw a change in Ellie’s behavior almost instantly. “We introduced Duma and the elephant in the sandpile, and it immediately cheered the elephant up,” said Karen Trendler, one of Ellie’s caretakers. Right after they met, it was obvious that a serious friendship was on the rise. Duma was elated with his new friend, and Ellie seemed social and was feeling happy for the first time!


They began to see that the relationship had a huge impact on the elephant. He started to show an interest in life again.

Miraculously Revitalized

At last it seemed that Ellie the elephant had a reason to live again. His physical problems still remained, but Ellie’s depression and fatigue seemed to go away as the unlikely duo of animal friends became completely inseparable.


Ellie’s enthusiastic recovery was even more clear as the companions were often discovered playing together, rolling around in dirt or resting together under trees. The infant elephant even seemed, by all accounts, to be grinning when he got together with his pawed mate. In spite of their differences, the companions showed an inspiring change in conduct that nobody anticipated.

Best Buddies

Duma the dog started to get protective of Ellie and began to take on a fatherly role in the elephants life. The workers at the orphanage had a hard time keeping Duma away from Ellie- he was his protector as well as best friend.


Duma could always be found playfully and protectively running around wherever Ellie was. Occasionally, Duma would bring his elephant pal some sticks to play with or give him a comforting nuzzle. Duma seemed to always know what Ellie needed. Emotional benefits aside, the relationship also seemed to have an incredible physical influence on both animals.

Inseparable Animal Friends

Ellie had beaten all odds, and thankfully, the baby elephant is still with us. That seems to be due to the fact that the pair became fast friends. For the first time since Ellie was rescued and taken to the orphanage, his spirits were up and he seemed happy to be alive.


Videos of the unlikely animal friends showed them playing together, with their tails wagging and showing each other tender playfulness. As the weeks and months went by, the precious friendship only blossomed more and more. With this, Ellie’s health seemed to be on the rise, and his caregivers had to think long and hard about the elephant’s future.

Safari Soul Mates

The plan was to release Ellie from the orphanage when he managed to regain his full strength. Ellie’s caretakers and the veterinarians were planning this since his arrival. The elephant would either be introduced to an existing herd of animals, or join or start one consisting of other elephants that had no existing tribe or family. But the team was still worried about the little elephant’s future.


The staff began to try to figure out the best course of action for Ellie, and what would be best for the future. Despite Ellie’s close friendship with Duma the dog, they were not sure about Ellie’s future and had to keep an open mind while thinking of the next steps.

Pressure Lifted

Because of the friendship between the baby elephant and Duma the dog, the staff was able to breathe for a bit. The pressure to reintroduce the baby elephant into a herd of his own was lifted. They did not want to run the risk of rushing to return him to a herd before having a full recovery.


They had initially wanted to re-release Ellie into the wild where he could be with other elephants and again be part of a herd. However, this did not seem as important anymore now that Ellie had Duma the dog taking care of him. Everything seemed to be going so well for Ellie, at least for the time being.

Turn For The Worse

His caretakers finally thought that they could rest easy, now that it seemed the baby elephant would finally make it, and his demeanor was looking up. Unfortunately, their dreams for the elephant would soon be shattered when they were faced with an unexpected emergency.


Ellie’s health took an unexpected turn for the worse after a few long months at the wildlife rehabilitation sanctuary. But his caretakers were going to stop at nothing to save him. Not quite ready to give up on the elephant, his caretakers immediately started making requests from anyone who could assist them in this matter.

Plea For Help

In a harrowing plea for help, the sanctuary took to social media for assistance. They were begging anyone who could help get them IV colloids for the collapsed elephant calf. They posted all over their Facebook page, asking for urgent assistance at the sanctuary. The staff loved Ellie, and they knew all that he had been through. They couldn’t believe he was facing yet another near death experience.


Even though Ellie seemed to make a miraculous recovery due to his newfound friendship with Duma, and his physical health seemed to be improving, the elephant’s previous infection had come back and was spreading all over his body. Ellie was fading quickly, and they didn’t know if he would even make it through the night, let alone make a full recovery.

Untimely End

Unfortunately, little Ellie, only made it a few more days before he tragically passed away. He lived for five months at the animal orphanage. His vets and caretakers were distraught. He was showing such promise and they were all hopeful for his future. They were able to give him a wonderful life in his short time there, though, which was some comfort to them.


The sanctuary announced the devastating news on their Facebook page.“It is with deep sadness and so many tears that we bring the devastating news that Ellie passed away gently, shortly before midnight on Tuesday evening.” The entire community shared their grief.

Free-Roaming Spirit

Everyone at the sanctuary was deeply moved by Ellie’s story and affected greatly by his passing. The wildlife conservation organization posted a sweet tribute to Ellie on their Facebook page. “Ellie has been returned to the wild buried in a special place at Thula, where his spirit can roam with the herd.”


Deep sadness and many tears filled the orphanage in the days to come. The staff tried to find comfort and remember that they had given Ellie a chance to find happiness and live a full, albeit short, life. They gave him life when he almost had none. They gave him the opportunity to forge a deep and meaningful friendship with Duma, and they knew that the legacy of Ellie the Elephant would live on.

Never Forgetting The Elephant

Unfortunately, Ellie the elephant’s adopted family and fans around the world had to say goodbye to him at a very young age. He will be remembered for his perseverance and his ability to overcome multiple health problems, as well as psychological hardships. He was an example of love and kindness to all.


No one would soon forget the special friendship between Duma and Ellie, especially not Duma, who was left sad and alone with the passing of his special pal. People continued to be mesmerized by their story and videos of the two together are still constantly watched. Sadly for Duma, the tables had now turned and he was down and lonely. It was time for Duma to find another friend.

A New Opportunity

Those who worked and lived on the game reserve were not in the clear yet. Rough times were not over. Shortly after Ellie died, poachers invaded the land and killed a baby rhino while robbing other rhinos of their horns. Duma the dog did not take long to put his energy into making friends with another baby animal, that also needed a companion at the sanctuary.


Duma would never forget Ellie, and he would never be replaced, but it seemed that the dog was ready to make a new friend – with another orphan, but not an elephant. This time it was with a baby rhinoceros.

Déjà Vu

Having seen the importance of Duma’s presence for Ellie the elephant, the sanctuary staff had high hopes for similar results with little Nandi, the rhino. Just like Ellie, this orphaned baby rhino had experienced severe trauma when her mother was killed by poachers. While she was not necessarily sick, she had to adjust to life as an orphan, without her family or her rhino tribe.


Because of his success nursing Ellie back to health, Duma the dog became the Thula Thula Orphanage resident emotional support dog and parent figure to other animals around the reserve. Everyone was hoping that Duma and Nandi would become instant pals.

When Dog Meets Rhino

Duma the dog, along with the staff at the reserve, were so excited to introduce the pair. They knew that Duma was an expert at helping orphaned animals and had high hopes for the soon-to-be BFFS.


When they went to meet for the first time, Duma slowly came toward the baby rhino with the hope that he could do for Nandi what he did for Ellie. His curiosity and energy could be felt by everyone who was watching. It was such a tender moment, as Duma had also brought a gift to give to Nandi, a little stuffed toy.  He was certain she would love it!

Friendly Frolicking

Duma was a natural-born leader.  He wanted to take charge of the situation. After handing over his sweet gift, the stuffed toy, they got right to playing. Both of their tails started to wag and they started playing games with each other. Nandi and Duma started playfully chasing each other, and Duma even taught Nandi some games!


Before long, Nandi was able to understand the games that Duma was trying to show her. Their friendship became stronger and eventually the roles were reversed, and Nandi  took the lead on some of their playing. Just like everyone expected and hoped for, the two became best friends.

A Perceptive Pal

Naturally, the thought of a rhino and a dog as best friends seems completely outrageous. Pictures and videos of the best friends began to pop up on the Internet. Before long, they turned into a viral sensation. People just could not get enough. While most people thought it was adorable, there were of course some people who had some questions and concerns about the pair.


Apparently, the sanctuary got questioned by people who had seen the viral videos. They were worried about the pair – specifically about what would happen to the two when the rhino grew up. Experts at the orphanage responded quickly. They made sure everybody knew that the dog was perhaps even more skilled than the humans in caring for Nandi, and that they would be just fine.

The Rhino Whisperer

Duma is no stranger to rhinos. He had worked with larger and older ones before. He is able to sense their behavior, and he knows when he is going to be in danger and can get out of the way and leave them alone if he needs to. The workers at the sanctuary noticed that the dog was able to pick up signals from the rhinos, even before they did.


It seems so incredible that two animals such as a rhino and an elephant could become best friends with a dog.  But surprisingly, while it is unique, they are not the only animals who have made special friendships with each other. Continue on to read about another duo of unlikely animal friends!

Worlds Away

Halfway around the world from the heartwarming story of Ellie the elephant and Duma the dog, another adorable and unlikely friendship was in the making.  Another African elephant, just like Ellie, was melting hearts all over the world with her unique friendship.


Bubbles the elephant, just like Ellie, had a rough start to her life in Africa, before she was finally rescued. She ended up in South Carolina, becoming best friends with a puppy. You may ask, how did the two even come together in the first place? Let us show you exactly how it happened, and how these two became total #squadgoals.

Adopted From Africa

Between the years 1970 and 1989, there was an unfortunate 20-year poaching epidemic. Bubbles the elephant was among a handful of lucky elephants who were able to get rescued and find safety in the United States. Poor Bubbles was orphaned, after an attack killed her entire family.


Thankfully, Bubbles was rescued and adopted by a safari in South Carolina, called the Myrtle Beach Safari. They had safe grounds for her to roam and live a good life. So Bubbles began to make her way across the world to her new home, anxiously awaiting her new life.

Arriving In America

An orphaned elephant with no family has it hard enough, add to that the fact that she was moved to somewhere far from her home and what was familiar to her. She had been through a lot and the trainers at the Safari had no idea what to expect. They didn’t know how she would act in the new space. When she arrived in South Carolina, she was described as small and helpless, even though she weighed almost 350 pounds.


She thrived over the years, though. It did not take her long to get accustomed to her new life. She was able to grow to her full-size, standing nine feet tall and weighing 9000 pounds. Not too shabby.

Pool Of Dreams

The staff at Myrtle Beach safari wanted to help Bubbles feel like she was still back in her home in Africa. To do this, they made her an enormous pool for her to cool off in and wade about. They hired a contractor to come and build the pool for her, and to everyone’s surprise he seemed to have left something behind.


When the contractor left the site, the staff found a Labrador puppy named Bella on the premises. It seems that he had left her there. The pool was symbolic in the lives of the two animals, but nobody really knew just how important it would be.

Bubbles And Bella

Sadly, the elephant and the dog were both orphans who had been rescued by the Safari. But that did not mean that life was over for them. Thankfully, they did not have to deal with the loneliness for long. It was pretty certain that the two had enough in common to start a fast friendship that would last a very long time.


I don’t think anyone at the Safari expected the fame that the pair would gain. However, how could you not love them? They were totally hilarious – such an unusual duo. They loved each other, and became each other’s family when they had no one else. They formed a very special bond.

Famous Friends

It is no surprise that the unusual friends became a huge hit, with visitors as well as people all over the internet. The pair had gone viral. Videos were surfacing all over, showing the elephant and the dog playing together on the grounds of The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species at their home in South Carolina.


People came from all over the world just to witness the friends playing together. They became completely famous, not just inside the Safari, but all over the world. The pool that they created for the elephant was really special. It gave them a special place to play and interact, which would go on to help them forge their deep friendship.

Lifetime Love

Bubbles the elephant is so much more than just an average elephant. In fact, she is actually a movie star. She has appeared in multiple commercials, a music video, and even in the movie Ace Ventura!  Because of her success, she has become one of the best-known animals in the world. Even though she has become a household name, most people are still enthralled by her friendship with Bella.


This playful pair were always having so much fun. They loved to play games – a favorite game between the two was a rendition of ‘catch’, where Bubbles throws the ball and Bella climbs up Bubbles and jumps into the water to get it.

Just The Two Of Them

The two friends loved to play together. They played together in the pool, they splashed around in the nearby river, and occasionally you could find Bella jumping on top of Bubbles. She could also be found riding her or climbing on top of her. They truly had so much fun together.


The staff at the safari said how much they loved to play together and romp around. Absolutely nobody could have expected that this friendship would have formed and developed into what it was. But as you can see, these two animals are best friends. These two creatures can really teach us so much about kindness and companionship.